"My coach was a middle linebacker, so he said that when I'm out there, nobody comes over the middle," Patin said. "That's your area and you defend it, so if someone comes in your area, you make them pay."
At 6 foot, 2 inches and 230 pounds, Patin has the body to do just that. With a reported 380 pound bench press, he's also got the strength. But one of his best assets comes shining through, when he thinks of some team trying to test him, throwing the ball to a wideout streaking across the field. "Oh Lord, this is going to hurt you a lot more than it's going to hurt me," Patin said of what goes through his mind when he sees a someone come over the middle with the ball. "I get a couple of shots like that a game, and all I am thinking is to make sure I take this guy out."
Playing from the inside backer position in a 3-4 scheme, Patin totaled 80 tackles last year, eight of those for loss, including six sacks.
The raw numbers, the season stats and the attitude are more than enough to attract attention and to that end, Patin has done just that. Boasting over 10 offers, Earl is already looking at full rides to LSU, Miami, Clemson, Florida, Alabama and Auburn, just to name a few.
His most recent offer, though, didn't come out of the southeast, which is where almost all of the rest of his offers come from. This one came from the Midwest, from the University of Nebraska.
Patin didn't seem surprised at the offer, but said of the Huskers, he just doesn't know a lot about them. "I know one of their coaches has a wife from Louisiana," Patin said of defensive back coach Phil Elmassian. "And I have talked to coach (Bill) Callahan," he said of the Nebraska head coach. "I really don't know a lot about them right now, but I'd consider them one of my top five schools right now."
The obligatory question for Patin pertains to why he's waiting to make a decision. He's a native of Louisiana, grew up an LSU fan and his mom would like him to stay closer to home. Kids with similar connections usually didn't wait, opting to commit to LSU when they got the offer in hand.
Patin will admit that the Tigers are the leader, but he's looking at a few more things. "LSU is stacked right now," Patin said of the Tigers' current amount of talent at the linebacker position. "There's competition everywhere, so that's not the issue, but it just makes you look to see what others have."
Earl has been to three-day camps to both LSU and Florida. He was scheduled to attend another three-day camp, this one to Southern California, but a "mess up" with the plane tickets made that trip impossible. There's another potential camp-visit, this one to Florida State on July 9th, but nothing has been officially scheduled.
As for the decision, while his mom wants him to commit as soon as possible, and you know to where, Earl says he's still taking it all in. Despite all the signs, which say he's eventually bound for LSU, Patin continues to look. For what? Sometimes it just comes down to a feeling.
"LSU is my favorite, but I know plenty about them," he said. "I can see them whenever I want. Some of these other schools, I don't know a lot about. How do I know that a place like that wouldn't fit me better?"
"If I just committed now and didn't look around, I might wonder if I made the right choice. I plan on making the right choice, however long it takes."